POLICE authorities should worry about acts of indiscipline, corruption and criminality in the Force. The mass posting of police officers to numerous roadblocks, especially in the South East and South South has not deterred violent crimes like kidnapping and armed robbery.
In the South East, a large number of policemen, especially men of the Mobile Unit, has been farmed out to protect the illegal convoys of high net worth individuals and their families whenever these people are in town.
Some of the policemen â€œreport to workâ€, complete with their AK 47 assault rifles, whenever their wealthy â€œcustomersâ€ are in town, and return to base when these individuals leave. It is unimaginable that the police perform these assignments free, or that their superior officers do not know about these irregular postings.
Only recently, Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr Marvel Akpoyibo, personally arrested some officials of two banks and their police escorts who, against the directives of the police authorities, were engaged in conveying cash in bullion vans. The rule stipulates that movement of cash must be in bullet-proof vehicles.
After a wave of high fatalities among police officers escorting bullion vans, Deputy Inspector General of Police (Administration) Mr Uba Ringim, in a 28 September 2007 circular to all police commands expressed his dismay at the brazen disobedience of the Inspector Generalâ€™s order that cash was to be moved only in armoured, bullet-proof vans.
Police authorities had also directed that any bank that refused to provide bullet-proof vans would not be obliged the services of police escorts.
â€œI love my policemen and I do not want them to be unnecessarily exposed to enemy fire while escorting insured cashâ€¦I cherish my men in the same way that the banks cherish their money,â€ Mr. Akpoyibo said after the arrest.
Hardly a day passes without virtually all the police commands in the country letting out police officers to escort bullion vans, thus continuing to endanger lives of their officers and men.
What happened to discipline and obedience of directives by constituted authority? As the primary state agency for the maintenance of law and order, the police must be guided by obedience to orders. This cherished tradition is often compromised by many officers helping themselves to acts of irregular conduct and corruption. Many are no longer concealing this fact.
Some of the commercial vehicles with incomplete documentation belong to policemen, who have the effrontery to paint some parts of the buses in police colours or inscribe MOPOL (mobile police) on them.
Criminals explore the preferential waivers these vehicles get during checks for their operations.
Officers now know that when the police authorities say the checkpoints should be dismantled, they do not mean it.
When they vow to withdraw policemen guarding politicians and the rich, they cannot implement it for the obvious selfish gain from such illegal postings. In the same way, the directive on the withdrawal of police escorts from vans that are not bullet-proof is ignored.
The police must address discipline and tackle corruption among its officers and men, otherwise, the occasional arrest of erring officers, which is usually given wide media publicity, will become empty propaganda.